Update May 30: This week, Ohio's General Assembly passed HB523 moving the bill to Governor John Kasich's desk for approval. While Governor Kasich's office remains non committal as to whether the governor will sign it, polling numbers have indicated that over 90% of Ohioans favor medical use legalization. In other news, Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, a group backed by the national group Marijuana Policy Project, has suspended their signature initiative for the November ballot, citing HB523's positive movement through the General Assembly. We will continue to update you as we receive more news.
Original Post: On May 10th, the Ohio House passed HB523 which would allow people with certain medical conditions to buy and use marijuana, with the approval of an Ohio licensed physician. This week, the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee made changes that would allow increased patient participation and speed up what lawmakers originally estimated as a two year time line for establishing the program.
Under the bill passed by the House, HB523 would allow employers the right to ban any medical use of marijuana in the workplace and terminate the employment of those that used, even with the approval of a physician. But the Government Oversight and Reform Committee made a change to the employer protection provision. Under the changes, employers would have to prove employees violated a workplace anti-drug policy for the employees to lose unemployment or workers' compensation benefits and employees could appeal similar to other controlled substances.
If HB523 is the first attempt at legislation since the overwhelming defeat of Responsible Ohio's attempt to pass a constitutional amendment initiative that would have made legal recreational and medical marijuana in November.
In other legalization news, Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, backed by the national group Marijuana Policy Project, is continuing to collect the necessary 305,591 signatures needed to place the initiative on the November ballot. The group is well organized but it is unclear, at this writing, if they will meet the July deadline for valid signatures needed.
In the event the General Assembly passes HB523 and the constitutional amendment passes in November, the constitutional amendment would supersede HB523.
Stay tuned. We'll keep you up to date.